Sunday, February 27, 2022

Movie Dearest Top 10 of 2021

Better late than never... Movie Dearest's ten favorite films of the past year.

1. West Side Story: Stephen Spielberg achieved that rarest of feats, remaking a classic that both honors the original yet still looks and sounds remarkably fresh and alive. The iconic music, dazzling dancing, an enriched screenplay (by Tony Kushner), its amazing cast (led by the Latina trifecta of Ariana DeBose, Rita Moreno and Rachel Zegler) and more all add up to make this cinematic return to the West Side, sixty years later, a classic in its own right. (Streaming on Disney+ starting March 2nd.)

2. Parallel Mothers: Pedro Almodóvar and his muse Penélope Cruz do it again with this contemporary update to the great movie melodramas of the past. (Now streaming on demand.)

3. No Time To Die: Daniel Craig's final mission as super-spy James Bond took the franchise in surprising and, as always, thrilling directions. (Now streaming on demand.)

4. In the Heights: Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tony-winning, crowd-pleasing musical was brought vividly to the screen by director Jon M. Chu. (Now streaming on HBO Max.)

5. Belfast: Kenneth Branagh's loving homage to his boyhood days in Northern Ireland during the time of "The Troubles" is a bittersweet tale of holding onto innocence against all odds. (Now streaming on demand.)

6. Encanto: The magical, musical Madrigal family of Disney's latest animated multi-media blockbuster (and future franchise) are hard to resist.... even Tio Bruno. (Now streaming on Disney+.)

7. Swan Song: The legendary Udo Kier is mesmerizing as the once-legendary hairdresser Pat "Mr. Pat" Pitsenbarger in this underrated gay gem from director Todd Stephens. (Now streaming on Hulu.)

8. The Truffle Hunters: I've waited a year to put this delightful documentary — beautifully photographed and featuring a quirky cast of characters, both human and canine — on my top ten list. (Now streaming on demand.)

9. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: In a year that saw a string of highly-entertaining Marvel streaming shows, this big screen outing starring a mostly-unknown hero more than held its own. (Now streaming on Disney+.)

10. Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar: Yes, there was more sophisticated fare in 2021, but I could not resist this kooky, culotte-wearing camp-a-thon from the hilariously twisted minds of Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo. (Now streaming on Hulu.)

Honorable mentions (in alphabetical order): Black Widow, Everybody's Talking About Jamie, King Richard, Passing, Qua Vadis, Aida?, Raya and the Last Dragon, Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided To Go For It, Shadow in the Cloud, Tick, Tick... Boom! and Two of Us.

Worst Movies of 2021: Three overrated biopics lead my "least favorite" list — Spencer (Kristin Stewart as a pathetic, pearl-eating Princess Di), Being the Ricardos (a mean-spirited, miscast mishmash of I Love Lucy history) and House of Gucci (a veritable orgy of questionable accents, bloated histrionics and waxen prosthetics... and that's just Jared Leto). Leto joined Rami Malek and Denzel Washington in The Little Things, proving that even three Oscar winners can star in a lame, thrill-less thriller. And finally, if you ever wanted to see how badly Pirates of the Caribbean could have been, just watch the watered down Jungle Book starring Dwayne Johnson as, surprise!, an affable musclehead who occasionally says something witty.

Coming soon to Movie Dearest: My reviews of all of this year's Academy Award nominated short films, plus the latest edition of "If We Picked the Oscars".

Thursday, February 24, 2022

GALECA Goes Global with 2021 Dorian Award Nominations

From New York to Norway, Montana to Hiroshima, the nominations for the 13th Annual Dorian Awards span the globe, honoring the best films of 2021.

The Power of the Dog, Jane Campion's lyrical look at toxic masculinity in the wild west, roped in a grand total of nine nominations, including Best Film and Best Director. Animated Danish doc Flee, period piece Passing and Steven Spielberg's silver screen revival of the classic musical West Side Story follow with five nods apiece.

The epically intimate Japanese drama Drive My Car joins Dog and West Side in the Best Film race, along with another foreign fave, the Norwegian anti-romcom The Worst Person in the World, and a more contemporary Big Apple-based tuner, Tick, Tick... Boom!

Dog stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst and Kodi Smit-McPhee are joined in the performance categories by the actors behind Tammy Faye Baker (Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye), Princess Diana (Kristen Stewart in Spencer) and Jonathan Larson (Andrew Garfield in Tick, Tick), along with West Side stand-outs Ariana DeBose and Mike Faist, Passing pair Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga, Parallel Mothers mamma Penélope Cruz and Pig poppa Nicolas Cage, among others.

And forget about Bruno, the Dorians are talking about Encanto. Disney's Colombia-based crowd-pleaser and meme machine is nominated in both of this year's brand new Dorian categories, Best Animated Film and Best Film Music. Other multi-nominated movies include Dune, Mass, Titane and Zola.

It behooves me to mention the disappointment we here at Movie Dearest feel about the egregious absence of any recognition for the bittersweet Swan Song and its iconic leading man Udo Kier, as well as the delightful coming of age musical Everybody's Talking About Jamie and its stars, Richard E. Grant and newcomer Max Harwood. If the Dorians don't shine a spotlight on these outstanding gay stories, who will?

The Dorian Awards are presented by GALECA, The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, of which I and Movie Dearest's own reviewing reverend Chris Carpenter are long-time members. See the comments section below for the full list of nominations. Winners will be announced March 17.